Middle Eastern investors bid for stricken Portsmouth

LONDON Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:33pm BST

An employee speaks on a mobile phone at Portsmouth football club in southern England April 4, 2012. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

An employee speaks on a mobile phone at Portsmouth football club in southern England April 4, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Luke MacGregor

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LONDON (Reuters) - A group of Middle Eastern investors has become the third bidder for debt-laden Portsmouth, now playing in the English third tier, the football club's administrators said on Monday.

The Portsmouth Supporters Trust and former club owner Balram Chainrai's Portpin vehicle were already working on rival bids for the club. The administrators have set a deadline of Friday for them to finalise offers.

"We have received an initial offer from a Middle East-based group and are currently awaiting clarification of financial issues," said a spokesman for PKF, the administrators who have been running the club for more than six months.

Portsmouth, FA Cup winners in 2008, were in the Premier League as recently as 2010 but were relegated to League One (third division) last season after incurring a 10-point penalty for going into administration.

An online report by Dubai-based magazine Arabian Business said the potential Middle East investors had put $20.4 million (12.7 million pounds) into an escrow account held by Dubai Bank on August 30.

United Arab Emirates businessman Sulaiman al-Fahim bought Portsmouth in 2009 but his tenure was short-lived during a chaotic period where the club changed hands several times.

The current Portsmouth team is a mixture of youngsters and more experienced players on loan deals or short-term contracts.

The south coast club attracted a crowd of almost 18,000 for their first league fixture last month. They finally gave their fans something to cheer when won 3-0 at Crawley on Sunday - their first league win of the season.

(Writing by Keith Weir, editing by Mark Meadows)

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